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October 28, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:42am

Times Radio reaches 637,000 weekly listeners as Radio 4 Today dips to 6.5m

By Aisha Majid

The first official  RAJAR listening figures for Times Radio revealed it reached a weekly audience of 637,000 in the third quarter of 2021. 

The station’s breakfast show which is hosted by Aasmah Mir and Stig Abell reached 273,000 people, according to the data.

The national digital station which launched in 2020 as an alternative to Radio 4 and LBC has attracted a number of high-profile names including Mariella Fostrup, John Pienaar and writer Giles Coren. 

Tim Levell, Times Radio Programme Director, said: “Times Radio launched last June during the height of the pandemic, bringing together a set of brilliant broadcasting professionals united by a desire to create something new: a digital radio station providing quality news and analysis with the space for conversation not confrontation.

“I’m delighted by this debut RAJAR. It exceeds our expectations and shows there is a national audience hungry for intelligent, informed, thought-provoking and open-minded speech radio at any time of the day or night.”

Times Radio is owned by News UK’s radio division Wireless and is broadcast nationally via DAB. It operates without advertising breaks, instead offering sponsors “commercial opportunities across the schedule”.

According to News UK’s own analysis, 43% of Times Radio listeners are new to The Times and The Sunday Times.

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Global-owned LBC reached a record 3m weekly listeners during the third quarter of 2021 – 10% more people than it reached in the first quarter of 2020.  

Hours and share for the Global-owned station were also its highest ever and Nick Ferrari’s breakfast show also reached its highest ever audience figures nationally at 1.4 million, according to LBC. 

LBC News, which presents rolling updates 24 hours a day, reported 806,000 weekly listeners in its second set of audience figures since it launched in October 2019. – up from 657,000 weekly listeners in just prior to the lockdown. 

Today’s RAJAR results are the first in 18 months after the radio industry listening survey was suspended in March 2020 due to the pandemic. The new data was collected using an updated methodology which includes more data gathering sources and presents a view of how the nation's radio stations are faring a year and a half on from when the pandemic began.

talkRADIO, which like Times Radio is owned by Wireless, reached 450,000 people - adding 26,000 listeners since the first quarter of 2020 (a 6% increase). The station which focuses on politics and opinion recently brought on board Jeremy Kyle and Trisha Goddard to bolster its programming.   

Scott Taunton, Wireless CEO, said: “talkRADIO has delivered another period of record reach and listening hours. The station continues to invest in top quality talent across the schedule - our latest signing, Jeremy Kyle, took over drive time in September. Beyond radio, talkRADIO TV continues to attract new audiences to the station’s visualised output, across smart devices and social platforms.”

Across its stations, the BBC reached 34.6 million listeners and accounted for half of all radio listening hours across the country. 

BBC Radio 5 Live reached 5.9 million people (a 13% increase on the first three months of 2020) while the BBC World Service reached 1.4 million listeners (4% increase). Radio’s 4 audience remained static at 10.8 million listeners. 

The Today programme reached 6.5m listeners Monday to Friday, down from 7.12m in the first quarter of 2020.

BBC local radio reached 9.2m people, up from 7.8 million  - an increase of 18%.

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